In many a feature film, the musical score which accompanies the main narrative can be used to either enhance or complement what we are seeing on the screen. But on rare occasions, the soundtrack can drive and really set the scene of what we are seeing. It can really put the audience in a space where they feel like they are in the scene and feeling what the characters are feeling. That is what Stephen Warbeck’s score in the extremely quirky The Man In The Hat achieves. As we journey through the beautiful south of France, the music which accompanies the aforementioned Man in The Hat (played expertly by Ciarán Hinds) is fitting of his somewhat leisurely drive in his Fiat 500 through some of the country’s most beautiful regions.
So what sets about this journey? Is it just a random road trip? Actually, it is quite the opposite. The film opens with the man enjoying an evening meal near a boat dock when he witnesses a group of unrulily looking men throw what seems to be a body into the water, and so ensues the most laid-back car chase maybe in cinematic history, a whimsical on screen journey that Wes Anderson would be proud of. There is no real sense of peril for Hinds or in that fact urgency on the part of his pursuers, in fact, our protagonist takes time to stop and play a game of poo stick, where he meets The Damp Man (Stephen Dillane) after his hat falls into the water off a bridge, and stopping off to witness an impromptu street opera in a little town square.
Throughout this hour and a half-long feature the dialogue is minimal, but that doesn’t detract from the story, if anything it enhances the beauty of the surroundings and emphasises the cinematography. Hinds uses great facial expressions and subtle use of his eyes to create wonderfully comic moments, as well as showing his character to be sincere and caring, without barely muttering a word.
The Man In The Hat may not be the highest stakes car chase film you have ever seen, but it will be the driving holiday you had always wished you had been on. The characters are odd, yet loveable and the use of music throughout really puts you at the heart of a French adventure.
Dir: John-Paul Davidson
Scr: John-Paul Davidson, Stephen Warbeck
Prd: Daniel-Konrad Cooper, Dominic Dromgoole
Music: Stephen Warbeck
Runtime: 95 Minutes
The Man in the Hat is in selected cinemas from now and Digital from 19th October